Tuesday, May 15, 2018
A- Eleanor Friedberger
You can feel the electricity in Eleanor Friedberger's fourth solo album since The Fiery Furnaces, her duo with brother Matthew, took a break in mid-2011.
Inspired by a 2016 trip to her ancestral Greece, the album's steady voltage comes from the arrangements -- drum machines and synths lay a foundation for her 10 songs and crystalline electric guitars sweep, stab and flutter. Every now and then some very 1980s sounds appear, bringing back soothing memories like lullabies you faintly recall.
The melodies and lyrics provide their own current -- little jolts in just the right doses to keep you listening.
The most buoyant tunes form a neat trio: "Everything," "In Between Stars" and "Make Me a Song." The first sounds like Laurie Anderson at 45 rpm.; it's easy to imagine the second being written on a Greek island; while the third has bounce and seems like an invitation to something bigger, whether romance or purpose.
"The Letter" has a long, very beautiful and melancholy refrain reflecting the difficulties of human communication: "The opposite of what he thought he thought/The opposite of what she wanted." "It's Hard" recounts her experiences at the Athens nightclub Rebound, which gives the album its name.
In her songs, Friedberger is often in search mode, but she and collaborator Clemens Knieper have given Rebound a charming sound that these days is not so easy to find.
Hot tracks: "The Letter," "Everything," "In Between Stars," "Make Me a Song"
-- PABLO GORONDI
The Associated Press
B Okkervil River
In the Rainbow Rain
Will Sheff rebooted Okkervil River with a new band for 2016's lush Away, and uses the same players on In the Rainbow Rain. The sound is expansive, more reliant on keyboards, sax, and gospel-like female backing singers than on the electric guitars and brooding melodies of his past. At times, its echoes of '80s rock recalls the War on Drugs at their most leisurely ("Pulled Up the Ribbon," "Family Song"). The style suits these open-hearted songs.
Sheff is a versatile and precise writer. In the opener, "Famous Tracheotomies," he catalogs surgeries -- his own, Gary Coleman's, Mary Wells', Dylan Thomas' and Ray Davies' -- and ends with an instrumental allusion to "Waterloo Sunset." "External Actor," about a search for "moments of opaque-eyed, knocked-down rapture," is full of rapid-fire tongue-twisting wordplay. At its heart, In the Rainbow Room is about finding the confidence to believe in love and family in the face of doubt and disillusionment. It's a balm.
Hot tracks: "External Actor," "Family Song"
-- STEVE KLINGE
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Style on 05/15/2018
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